'Different cat' Arrieta dominates Pirates
Cubs ace hurls shutout to send Chicago to NL Division Series
PITTSBURGH -- Jake Arrieta had every intention of finishing what he started Wednesday night.
In his first postseason game, Arrieta threw a four-hit shutout, striking out 11, to lead the Cubs to a 4-0 victory over the Pirates in the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser.
Claude Passeau was the last Cubs pitcher to throw a shutout in the postseason, doing so Oct. 5, 1945, in Game 3 of the World Series. But Arrieta topped that.
• He's the first pitcher in postseason history to throw a shutout while striking out at least 10 and not walking a batter. The previous high was nine K's, set by Cole Hamels in Game 3 of the 2010 NL Division Series.
• Arrieta's 11 strikeouts tied the Cubs franchise record, set by Kerry Wood in Game 1 of the 2003 NLDS against the Braves. Wood was at PNC Park on Wednesday to share in the win.
• Arrieta is the 10th pitcher all-time to be hit by a pitch in a postseason game. And, after he was plunked, Arrieta then stole second base. He's the fifth pitcher all-time -- and the first since Cliff Lee in 2009 -- to steal a base in the postseason.
It won't show up on the stats sheets but Arrieta getting plunked also sparked a bench-clearing melee in the seventh. He had hit two Pirates earlier in the game and Pittsburgh's Tony Watson decided it was time to get even.
"The playoffs," Arrieta said of why both benches emptied. "There's a lot at stake. Tempers were running hot, and it is what it is. It's just the environment. It breeds that kind of intensity and sometimes those things happen."
This was Arrieta's sixth start this season against the Pirates, and manager Clint Hurdle said he hoped they could push him and make something happen.
"Everything we tried eventually got shut down or pushed back," Hurdle said. "We weren't able to score. He kept us off the plate."
"They've seen Jake a lot and we've seen [Gerrit Cole] a lot," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "At the end of the day, it really comes down to execution of pitches in the moment. We were able to get him there."
Arrieta had the advantage in the first three innings as he got ahead 0-2 in the count on seven of the first 10 batters he faced. Rookie Kyle Schwarber gave Arrieta all the offense he needed with an RBI single in the first. Arrieta had not given up a run in his final three regular-season starts, and the Pirates' chances of rallying were slim. He had not served up four runs since June 16 in a game against the Indians.
The largest crowd ever at PNC Park tried to rattle Arrieta by chanting his name early in the game. He shrugged it off.
"The attempt by the 'Burgh faithful to chant his name, which did not infiltrate his mind whatsoever, which I didn't think it would, I thought was kind of interesting," Maddon said.
"Jake is a different cat, man," Maddon said. "He's just a different cat. I could just think of [Joe] Namath guaranteeing a Super Bowl victory, that's all I could think of the last few days."
Arrieta hasn't done that yet but it's still fairly early in the postseason. This was his fifth complete game this year. It may not be his last.
"I didn't want to see anybody in the bullpen," Arrieta said. "I wanted to finish what I started and be the guy to get the last out. That was the mindset.
"Sometimes that doesn't work out but with an aggressive mindset and the ability to make pitches in big situations, get a couple big double-play balls, have a nice four-run cushion, all those things help. Especially in an environment like this, you want to have the ball in your hand when the last out is made."